It has been a long time coming but Manchester United are finally making their presence known in the summer transfer market.
Successful talks over the weekend saw significant progress made over their pursuit of Donny van de Beek with the club confident of agreeing personal terms ahead of a £40.1million deal.
Even in the current climate it seems like a steal with Van de Beek set to move to Old Trafford for far less than close friends Matthijs De Ligt and Frenkie de Jong did when departing Ajax a year ago, and even less than United forked out for Fred two years ago.
With less than three weeks until the new season there is clear excitement over the proposed addition of Van de Beek to a United midfield which already includes both Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba, but his arrival comes with an inevitable repercussion.
The 23-year-old is a quality addition for United this summer, but he wasn’t necessarily the one they needed the most. Right wing has always been the priority, while there was a growing argument to suggest a new centre-back had become a more pressing issue than signing another creative midfielder.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was well aware he had to ease the pressure on both Fernandes and Pogba ahead of the new season but the addition of Van de Beek has only shortened any hopes for Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira in the forthcoming campaign.
The duo are both free to leave Old Trafford this summer if an appropriate offer comes in for them, and the imminent arrival of Van de Beek will only hasten the speed at which such a deal occurs. United’s reserve duo will only see their playing time further diminish despite the packed fixture schedule and it is clear selling at least one of them is the obvious next step in the summer window.
Lingard enjoyed a revitalised end to the season at United while Pereira finished the campaign with an impressive 40 appearances under his belt across all competitions, it should make the process of moving them on easier than with others in the coming weeks.
United’s midfield pairing suffered under the intense pressure put upon them last season with the two back-up options forced to play more than expected following the failure to sign a new midfielder a year ago. A lack of squad depth was further amplified following injury to both Pogba and Scott McTominay during the campaign, and it was down to the two playmakers to try and resolve the shortcomings in attack.
Solskjaer named Pereira along with McTominay as the two players capable of replacing Ander Herrera following his transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, but while the Basque midfielder shone in a Champions League final the fortunes of his two former teammates have been less glamorous.
The duo both showed moments of quality last season and remain two of the most popular figures in the Old Trafford dressing room, but this summer Solskjaer needs to be ruthless if he is to build upon the positive foundations already laid. Van de Beek’s arrival is a step in the right direction, but it will also mark the end of at least one United career.